by Andru McCracken
The Regional District of Fraser-Fort George has launched an online survey to determine what recreation services people value in McBride and Valemount.
Michael Higgins, the general manager of community services, said the Regional District decided to review the use of the facilities and their condition while finalizing their 2018 budget.
“We’ve undertaken an asset management strategy which will help give us clearer ideas of the shape of the buildings and potential lifespan,” he said.
He said the consultation would help them determine what people want.
“The surveys are just the first part of the community consultation to help us identify an initial benchmark for where residents stand,” he said. “Later this year, we will be meeting with the community in a series of open houses to discuss the results of from the survey, the building assessment reviews and other issues to help us determine next steps in the process.”
Higgins said that the way the community uses that facilities has changed.
“The Fit Pits have become a major focus in both recreation facilities and there has been a decline in use of the ice surfaces,” he said.
“The community engagement survey will provide us with additional data on these trends and help us plan for the future. The Regional District is committed to ensuring the facilities are operated and maintained in a safe and efficient manner for the enjoyment of all users.”
The annual budget for the Canoe Valley Recreation Centre in Valemount is $632,910. McBride’s Robson Valley Recreation Centre plans to spend $777,400 but that also includes the community hall building.
The surveys can be accessed from the village websites, mcbride.ca and valemount.ca.
Higgins said some of the pressure comes from new safety requirements for ice making facilities.
A tragic fatal ammonia release at a Fernie ice rink has caused the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George to invest more in safety equipment, and that is putting pressure on building and operational reserves.
“There are no plans at this time to reduce the types of services offered at the recreation facilities,” said Higgins. “We are hoping for maximum participation in the survey and future community based meetings to assist the Regional District with delivery of the services that the community wishes and is willing to support.”
Dannielle Alan, the Regional District Director for the Canoe and Robson Valleys said that recreation centres play an important role in people’s lives.
“There is no threat to close [the facilities],” said Alan. “There is an honest conversation about where we are at and where we are going.”
Alan said an increasing tax burden is hard on existing businesses, but the rec centres are vital over the long winters.
“Winter is seven months long here,” she said. “Having active and engaged kids who learn about fair play is important.”
She also said amenities are critical to growing the communities.
“How can we attract new business and workers here if we don’t have something for them?” asked Alan.
“Will it costs us businesses because we raise the taxes so high they can’t afford to be here?”
Alan stressed that public participation was vital.